February 20, 2017
February is a month of celebrations, or “Carnaval,” in many predominantly Catholic countries. The celebrations mark the weeks leading up to Lent, and while you’ve probably heard of the festivities that take place in Brazil each year, what you may not know is that Peru has its own ways of celebrating Carnaval all across the country.
One of the best cities to observe and partake in Carnaval festivities is Cajamarca, a highland city in the North of Peru. In Cajamarca, Carnaval is celebrated with colorful costumes, music, water games, and the traditional dance around the yunsa tree. For the dance around the yunsa tree, the tree is covered with decorations and small gifts. Once the dancing is over, the tree is cut down with a machete. As it falls, spectators and participants run to collect the prizes that fall from its branches.
While Cajamarca may have one of the largest Carnaval parties in Peru, isn’t necessary to stray outside of Lima in order to celebrate. In the capitol city during the month of February, Carnaval is recognized much the same way as it is in Cajamarca, though on a smaller scale. In addition to the traditional yunsa tree, in Lima Carnaval is honored with processions, folkloric dances from different regions of Peru, and other artistic performances. However, perhaps most famously, Carnaval is celebrated in Lima in the form of water fights.
Lima in February is hot, so it comes as no surprise that Limeños use Carnaval as an excuse to cool down by throwing water at each other. During this time, anyone on the street is fair game, so be sure to roll up your taxi window and keep your valuables in a waterproof bag when wandering the city. This year in Lima, the peak time for celebrating Carnaval is still before us: February 24th through March 1st. If you’re in the city during that time, be sure to watch your back or else you may be hit with a stray water balloon (or even a full bucket of water).
If you’re looking for a good place to stay in Lima for Carnaval, look no further than Barranco. Barranco has some of the best nightlife in the city and is known for its energetic and artistic nature. The Point hostel is in a great location for public transport and access to events around the city so you won’t miss out on any of the Carnaval festivities, much less the lively atmosphere of Lima’s most animated district. Just be sure to bring your umbrella, a dry change of clothes, and some water balloons of your own.